Why You Don’t Have To Travel The World To “Find Out Who You Are”

I’ve been meaning to write this blog post for a while. Not A blog post which is normally the case, but THIS one. I very recently got an Instagram account – yes, I know, I’m super late – and aside from the excitement of seeing every person on the planet I’ve ever met also on there, not to mention holy shit (I can follow) Beyonce and Colin Kaepernick,  I was impressed by Instagram’s general simplicity. I mean, how brilliant: it is endless entertainment by means of a feed of only photos; lots and lots of photos and a profile consisting of a tiny, round picture and a small box reserved for your personal description. The descriptions are what really interested me. Many just write their name and a peace sign emotion, others choose to describe themselves in three definitive words. Then some opt for going a bit deeper, exposing a bit of who they truly are, perhaps through an inspirational quote- a statement they find motivating or peaceful, or sometimes it’s even a piece of their own personal philosophy- an expression coming from a place of experience, learning or growth. This is something I really admire and appreciate.

I didn’t want to write about Instagram though. I wanted to write about the extent to which we learn and grow. I want to talk about how we all do it in our own unique ways. I found it brave- other people my age sharing wisdom they believe in or have to offer. So I decided to follow their lead and do the same. My description reads, “Relax. You’re in the right place, doing exactly what you’re supposed to be doing.” This is something I believe in, but unfortunately not confidently enough. In my heart, I see the bountiful truth in these words, I can even feel it at times. But I still have to remind myself on a daily basis that this refers to me too! I’m in the the right place! For a while now, I have felt stuck in a stage where I feel the need to compare my life to others’. I do this as a way to be sure that I am on the right path; that I am not making a mistake with my life choices.

They say (UGH, the un-credited, Godly “They”) that we are at an age prescribed with self-doubt, you know the whole 20-somethings age? “They” also say that our problem is we just want more. We want more because that’s the way our generation has been taught and brought up. We want everything and then some. Because we deserve success in all areas of life. We must achieve a perfect balance and in a timely matter! But instead of telling us what I am about to tell you, They tell us to let go of that engraved ambition for a little while and take advantage of being young while we still can (but meanwhile don’t forget to have our future still in the back of our mind somewhere- can this help me have a career or a family someday? ‘Cause that itch will need scratching eventually) and we’re advised to go discover who we are. And what has been driving me crazy lately about this is the way They tell us we have do it. We’ve got to travel!

It might seem strange that I find this bothersome, you know, with the whole having left my home to live abroad in Germany and all. Oh and also the fact that I absolutely love to travel because of all the beauty and magic there is to exploring other parts of the world. It is without a doubt that traveling is an incredible opportunity to learn and develop. BUT 1. It is NOT something you do because you feel pressure to travel since everyone else is doing it and/or you NEED to discover who you are. And 2. It is NOT the ONLY way to learn, grow, and develop as a human-being. I’ll even go as far as saying that it’s not even the best way. These messages really have to stop circulating this way! It forces people to feel bad or like they’ve made the wrong choices if they haven’t been abroad before; or worse, it makes people who haven’t, feel like they don’t know who they are because you can only know if you have traveled.

I will always promote travel and even the idea of traveling while you’re young too; I mean as someone who has been away from “home” for two consecutive years now, I see and know how you can benefit from “leaving your comfort zone” and “challenging yourself by immersing yourself in a foreign culture”. I will say however, that it takes a trip home to the States for me to see the real changes in myself. Otherwise I’d be quite oblivious to how much I have developed and grown. What’s so important to remember is while we’re on so many varying paths, that we’re all still somehow on the same page. During these trips home, when I spend time with all my 20-something friends, I see in them the same curiosity, self-doubt and confusion that I have. Maybe this is just the misery of 20-something. Just like teenage years are tainted with puberty and emotions, college years with being poor and over-worked, this is simply what comes now. I say it doesn’t have to be like this though and it’s all due to how much life is lived on the internet.

With all the “You’re From a 1st World Country, You’ve Got it Good” blog posts, I know, I know– I’ve got it good. And I don’t mean it sarcastically either, it’s important to widen your perspective. It’s just that post after post simply gets old after a while too. But come on, I want everything and then some, right? You can learn a lot about yourself by after being grateful for knowing you have it good, really thinking about why you have it great! And be proud! I know I am, close to finishing up my 2nd degree, a wonderful boyfriend who supports me and I can share life with, a family and group of friends half way around the world who I know love me today and always will, a job I enjoy and learn from every day, and YES various, beautiful memories of travel, it seems life couldn’t be more perfect. But the thing is, life is still going! I’m discovering who I am every single day because everyday is the chance to further learn, grow and develop. A new day offers a chance to keep pursuing what makes me happy in life.

So, what will I choose to do next? I always feel this need to pick something; to chose. And I feel this pressure that it has to be crazy, it has to be adventurous. Maybe I have to learn a new language and move to a new country…again. Maybe I have to drop everything I am doing right now and go join the Peace Corps, or maybe I’m supposed to teach English in China, that way, I can find out who I am. The problem with all of this is I started out by acknowledging the fact that each day is an opportunity to do something that I get joy from, but I go on to categorize that joy and then consider various choices that I’m told I’m supposed to be doing. Eliminate all those “supposed to’s”, “have to’s, “should be like”; “should be doing’s” from your vocabulary because all it’s going to do is bring you is disappointment. All it’s done for me is make me deeply confused and insecure. Before ridding my mindset of these poisonous expectations, I relaxed and took the time to really look at the place I am at right now in my life and see everything amazing that it is; this showed me that it’s exactly where I am supposed to be. I’m supposed to be here because I paved this path for myself, not anyone else, just as you are here in the place you are today because you chose which way to go!

You don’t HAVE to go on a Euro-trip to find out who you are. You don’t HAVE to live in Australia or India for a few months to become a better person. You certainly can! But only if that’s truly what your heart desires. Not because it’s become a positively accepted and promoted thing to do by society and not because your friends are doing it. These wrong reasons will in one way or another effect your experience. There are countless ways to “get out of your comfort zone” which will inevitably contribute to your personal growth. Big, dramatic and expensive ways are not for everyone. The reason why we’re all over the place, some consumed by work and their careers, others completely devoted to their new families, at the same time, many still broke-ass students or sort of floating in between, trying to figure out the next move, is because we’re so, very, wonderfully DIFFERENT.

I’ll admit I’m not very career-oriented and it could be because I’m still a student, but regardless, I’ve noticed I’m not really anything-oriented. I don’t base most of my choices around my future job, my family, what I got my bachelor degree in, or a special talent that I have. I am driven by all of these things and because of that, I feel like it makes it harder for me to place my focus somewhere. I’ve thought that this is a bad thing and that there is something wrong with me, there goes that self-doubt again. Of course I later realized, that it’s just who I am and that it’s OKAY.

It’s all okay. If you’re as affected as I sometimes am by the many outside influences telling you what you should be doing, where should be in your life, and how you should be living it, then shut that crap off. Just turn it off. Then remember what’s true, you can relax; you’re in the right place, doing EXACTLY what your supposed to be doing. With that, focus on making yourself happy TODAY–it’s great if what makes you happy today is future-oriented or if it just satisfies today’s needs, but try not to get down if you’re procrastinating or fearing the next big choice, because know that no matter what, it’s going to be okay and it will all work out.

Watch out for my next post, a further rant about all the things we can do in life in addition to traveling that will help us learn about ourselves. Most of these ideas will be inspired by all the wonderful things many of my amazing friends around the world have done or are doing with their lives.

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